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CritiqueText • Frankenstein at the movies

Frankenstein, first illustrated editionFrontispiece, first illustrated edition 1831
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

Original title
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

First publication

Literary form

Literary, science fiction, horror

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 78,000 words

The Curse of Frankenstein scene
Peter Cushing returns to create new monsters, starting with The Revenge of Frankenstein.

He's baaack—again and again

The Revenge of Frankenstein(1958): Film, 90 minutes; directors Terence Fisher; writer Jimmy Sangster; featuring Peter Cushing, Michael Gwynn, Francis Matthews, Eunice grayson

The Evil of Frankenstein (1964): Film, 84 minutes; director Freddie Francis; writer John Elder; featuring Peter Cushing, Kiwi Kingston, Peter Woodthorpe

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967): Film, 86–92 minuites; director Terence Fisher; writer John Elder; featuring Peter Cushing, Suysan Denberg, Thorley Walters, Robert Morris

Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969): Film, 98–101 minutes; director Terence Fisher; writer Bert Batt; featuring Peter Cushing, Freddie Jones, Simon Ward, Veronica Carlson, Thorley Walters

The Horror of Frankenstein (1970): Film, 95 minutes; director Jimmy Sangster; writer Jeremy Burnham, Sangster; featuring Ralph Bates, Kate O'Mara, Veronica Carlson, Dennis Price

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974): Film, 99 minutes; director Terence Fisher; writer John Elder; featuring Peter Cushing, Shane Briant, Madeline Smith, David Prowse

The successful British reboot of the Frankenstein franchise in 1957 not only made stars of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee but also led to several sequels, starting with The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) with the same director, Terence Fisher, and same writer, Jimmy Sangster, who ended up writing almost all Hammer's Frankenstein and Dracula films.

Cushing returns as the doctor but without his friend Lee as the monster for the sequels. In the first one Victor has cheated death, which seemed inevitable at the end of The Curse of Frankenstein, and now continues with his grisly experiments.

Gwynne as Karl
Michael Gwynn as assistant Karl

In fact, the original monster is not resurrected. Unlike the Americans, when the Brits kill off a monster at the end of a film, it stays dead. In the subsequent Frankenstein films in this series, the good doctor works on new re-animation projects.

In this movie, the closest thing to a monster is Frankenstein's hunchbacked assistant Karl (yes, the stereotype of the mad scientist's assistant is revived), whose brain is transplanted into a healthy body. The experiment goes horribly wrong, of course.

The film, however, goes quite right and is one of the most acclaimed of the Hammer horror films, alongside Curse. 

After a break, Fisher made four more Frankenstein films with Cushing for Hammer studios: The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Frankenstein Created Woman (1966), Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974).

Of this batch, the 1969 film is considered the best and the 1964 flick—in which the "monster" is a beautiful young woman's body containing her lover's soul bent on revenge against some local dandies—is the worst, possibly the worst film ever made by Hammer Films.

The studio also threw in another one in 1970, Horror of Frankenstein, without Fisher or Cushing, but the attempt to introduce a young, hip Frankenstein flopped.

— Eric


CritiqueText • Frankenstein at the movies

1931, 1935, 1939, 1942–1948, 1957, 1958–1970, 1973–1996, 1994, 2014